Before Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood, P.T. Anderson made a quiet, violent gambling movie called Hard Eight. Set in the casinos and sleazy motels of Reno, Hard Eight stars John C. Reilly as a no-hoper and Philip Baker Hall as the aging player who mysteriously takes him on. Gwyneth Paltrow is Reilly’s unlikely love interest. The action, at first, is slow, befitting wanderers who don’t have any particular destination in mind. But the movie is sympathetic to their inaction and inarticulateness. Hard Eight is worth seeing for a peak at one of the most emotionally bombastic directors before he completely found his footing. Or just watch it for Philip Seymour Hoffman’s fantastic cameo as loutish young dicer.
Bio: Alex Halperin is an editor at Guernica. Read his last recommendation “here”:https://www.guernicamag.com/blog/1447/rec_room_alex_halperin_the_art/.